Forgive us for the very short post this week. Andrew and I have been busy prepping for our 10 day canoe trip down the Noatak River. Here are some pictures from our week around Fairbanks.
Andrew lived in Alaska in the mid-70s and 80s when Alaska seemed a little more frontier and a little less subdivided. His father worked for ARCO on the north slope. As a boy, Andrew wanted to see where his father worked, but with no public highway and limited flights (for oil workers only) into Deadhorse, he didn’t have the opportunity. So, with his interest in driving every maintained Alaska highway and visiting where his dad worked, the Dalton Highway has been on our Alaska bucket list.
The Dalton Highway opened to the public in 1994. This combination of 25% paved/75% graveled highway is mainly used by long haul fuel and transport trailers headed to Coldfoot, Deadhorse, or one of the many oil pump houses. Services are extremely limited with gas, food and lodging only in the wayside communities of Yukon River, Coldfoot/Wiseman and Deadhorse. Nevertheless, while the highway follows the pipeline, it really takes drivers through some beautiful landscapes.
The first day of our journey presented a few challenges. Forest fires with tremendous amounts of smoke along with rain and fog left us little to no visibility for the first 8 hours. The combination of zero visibility; many long haul trucks; winding, graveled roads, and areas appropriately named, Rollercoaster, Oh Sh*t Corner, Oil Spill Hill and Ice Cut, make for a thrill seeking ride. In contrast, the drive back was blue skies, serene landscapes, and peaceful. We even stopped for a hike out to Finger Rock and take photos at several pull-offs.
The communities of Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay are made up many temporary portable structures for housing and offices. The town has one general store with a post office and hardware store included, two gas stations and three hotels. In order to visit the Arctic Ocean, which is located in the strictly controlled oil area, travelers must arrange a tour with Arctic Ocean Shuttle. Andrew and I reserved a spot on a morning shuttle, which drove by pump house 1, several oil buildings/rigs, and down to an old dock, where we dipped our feet in the freezing water.
With most of June filled with so much adventure, from wildlife viewing in National Parks to day trips around the Kenai Peninsula, Andrew and I felt we needed to slow down and enjoy the beauty around our campsites.
Every afternoon included taking Ame on a long walk to enjoy the blooming wildflowers and grab a glimpse of mudflats and/or lake. The end of June is a delightful time to see an abundance of Alaska’s wildflowers/flowering weeds and bees. The purple blossoms of fireweed and umbrellas of white yarrow canvas the roadsides and campgrounds. Large fields of sweet smelling red clover make it difficult to avoid pollinating bees along any path.
At the of our week of r&r, we traveled to the historic town of Talkeetna. This quaint village is a major hub on the Alaska Railway, offering visitors rafting adventures, charter flies over Denali and souvenir shops aplenty. Andrew and I enjoyed the accessibility of Talkneeta, where the Rv park is located in front of the train depot and a quarter mile walk from downtown. For Independence Day, we met up my cousin Alan and his wife Karen, who were passing through on their Alaskan cruise/train adventure . The four of us visited over lunch at Wildflower Cafe, and then browsed several gift shops. It was such a treat to spend the holiday with family, while so far from home.
Now, back in exploration mode, we head to Fairbanks and onto the north slope. Ready for a little dunk in the Arctic Ocean (leaving only the Antarctic or South Ocean left for us to play in).